Is it a good idea to learn to ride on a vintage bike?

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Grey Thumper
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Is it a good idea to learn to ride on a vintage bike?

#1 Unread post by Grey Thumper » Tue May 06, 2008 9:08 pm

I've got a friend who plans to buy a 1956 BMW R26 as his first motorcycle (and learn on it; he's only owned scooters before).

I think it's a bad idea for all sorts of reasons. I'm wondering how to tell him, since I've only been riding for little more than a year and don't want to seem like a know-it-all.

Or am I overreacting? It's a 250cc, 160kg/350lb, 15 hp motorcycle after all.

PS, I've seen the bike, it's gorgeous, and I can't blame him for falling in love with it.
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#2 Unread post by Flesher » Tue May 06, 2008 10:14 pm

IMO if all the safety parts are in good working order/good condition then I don't see a problem with it.

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#3 Unread post by Thumper » Tue May 06, 2008 10:57 pm

I think the only real drawback--presuming it's in terrific condition--would be the heartache if he dumped it...

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#4 Unread post by KingRobb » Wed May 07, 2008 12:29 am

Thumper wrote:I think the only real drawback--presuming it's in terrific condition--would be the heartache if he dumped it...
Dyin'? Boy, he can have this little life any time he wants to. Do ya hear that? Are ya hearin' it? Come on. You're welcome to it, ol' timer. Let me know you're up there. Come on. Love me, hate me, kill me, anything. Just let me know it.

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#5 Unread post by TorontoBoy » Wed May 07, 2008 6:25 am

If it's safe, then it'd be a good beginner bike. Not too much engine power. Brakes are not too powerful. Though it's heavy for a 250, it's still not too heavy. He'll need new tires.

It'd be really fun to learn on a BMW 250. They're really nice looking and very unique.

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#6 Unread post by NorthernPete » Wed May 07, 2008 8:20 am

as was mentioned, as long as its in good shape. and your buddy doesnt mind wrenching occationally.
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#7 Unread post by Grey Thumper » Thu May 08, 2008 2:50 am

Thumper wrote:I think the only real drawback--presuming it's in terrific condition--would be the heartache if he dumped it...
If he really can't resist the Beemer, I'm planning to suggest that he also get something used, cheap, but fairly recent and reliable, like the usual Ninja 250 suggested on this site. That way, he could build up skills and learn to ride properly on something less painful to drop (and that has more reliable brakes, for instance), then sell the Ninja later on.
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#8 Unread post by obfuscate » Fri May 09, 2008 2:28 am

Thumper wrote:I think the only real drawback--presuming it's in terrific condition--would be the heartache if he dumped it...
It's a real challenge to find parts for some older bikes. Ebay makes it easier, but realize it can take a while to find parts. Have him look around before he buys it. My mother had a '77 Guzzi for a while that she ended up selling because finding parts was such a pain.

If he's into wrenching this could be fun for him, (I have fond memories of helping fix that Guzzi) if not he may end up spending more money on the mechanic than he intends.

Let us know how it turns out
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#9 Unread post by Captain Pete » Fri May 09, 2008 11:16 pm

He will have a hard time finding parts for an R series of that vintage, and they will not be cheap. If he has the time, the money, and the mechanical savvy, then it would be a good project bike to work on over the next couple of years. If your buddy likes vintage bikes, and is still pretty much a beginner, then the older Honda CB750's or the Suzuki GS bikes (the 550 or 750) would be great. However, one should never turn down an opportunity to own a vintage Beemer.
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Re: Is it a good idea to learn to ride on a vintage bike?

#10 Unread post by jimbeemer » Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:48 pm

It should be character-building. I learnt to ride on all sorts of clapped-out old (classic, or just old?) bikes in the UK and sure learnt a lot about how bikes work (and don't). Nothing like riding home in a snowstorm with a throttle cable tied to your thumb to learn:laughing: bike control!

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Re: Is it a good idea to learn to ride on a vintage bike?

#11 Unread post by Katharine » Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:57 pm

Good to read. If I got a bike (some day! I keep dreaming!) I'd want a 70s-era Honda-- either XL250/XL350 or perhaps CB350. And I've always wondered if vintage is a bad idea for a first bike-- if they tend to have idiosyncrasies that make life for a beginner difficult that might be fixed on a newer bike with newer technology, or if they're harder to fix (guess that depends on which bike as well).

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Re: Is it a good idea to learn to ride on a vintage bike?

#12 Unread post by Flat Knuckle » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:47 pm

The R26 is a neat motorcycle, to be sure, but I don't think it would be my first choice as a learner bike. As others have mentioned, I'd get pretty mad if I were to drop it, and I'm not sure how many parts are still out there for a nearly 60-year-old Beemer.

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